Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Maze

This poem is what my childhood felt like. It's what my life as a young woman felt like. It's only now when all the rest are dead and gone that I feel safe. I can't claim that all women who were sexually abused within what should be a safe place, with family, at home feel like this, but I bet it's a lot. We could be a terrifying army of wounded women, who might have become just a little bit heartless.

Daddy was an expert at driving the lab animals mad
It was his job, it was his passion. Daddy had talent for it.
Daddy married a woman with a pretty child and no maternal
Instinct drove them to it. Unhinge that child Daddy, see what
She can take. The little whore becomes your slave until she is
Too old. Unhinge that child. What is she but a ticking time bomb.
Call her a liar and she becomes one, threaten the cage again, bind her
Mind with fear like Chinese women’s feet. Women are used to torture
The women her mother hates so much, apron wearing women, domesticated
Dumb cows. The girl will run the hamster wheel of repetition repetition repetition
Until she’s the only one left alive, alone at last. Talks about it like normal life, like
normal life
Like Normal life.


Samantha Thomas said...

Your poem sings to my heart. My dad was a chemist, and for him everything had a formula. Everything had a practical use value, and nothing was valued more than his "collections." His second child, the one he had no use for -- little me -- he rented to his pedophile friends for almost ten years, until I was tired and used and shop-worn at the age of 14, wishing I could will myself to die. Your poem was a great catharsis for me, Sweetie. Love to You.

The Peach Tart said...

A very powerful poem. Thank you.

Doc said...

Ms. Savage,
Forgive a new-comer, but when I read, "The Cost Of A Childhood Stolen" I was too flabbergasted to leave a comment. I just couldn't think of a thing to say, despite what a powerful piece of honesty it is.

I returned with the hope that there would be a disclaimer about what a horrible, black-humored joke it was. I didn't want to believe that there was such a cold blooded human being who would do such a thing to a child. I am more than a little crushed to find that this is true. I am blinded by my own niavete that people are basically good.

My sympathy can only come as hollow words. There is nothing I can say that would blunt the knife edge of your pain. For that, I am truly sorry.

For what it's worth, I have two little girls of my own, 5 & 7, and it scares the bejeebus out of me thinking about them being out in "the big, bad world" all alone, as there seems to be lines forming of people who would do them harm. I guard them, protect them, and teach them the best way I know how, yet I lie awake at night and wonder if I could do better.

I don't know how much stock you put into prayer, but for what it's worth, I'll pray you find still waters and peace of mind.

Should you not take any comfort from prayer, may you win the lottery and have your therapy paid for as long as you need it.

May you find respite in your writing,

Utah Savage said...

Samantha, I hope you write this history of your. It is only in complete honesty that we can make it clear that the sexual abuse of little girls and boys is common as dirt. It is becoming the norm. You are a beautiful writer. So write this story please.

Peach Tart, I'm hoping your history of sexual abuse makes it into print as well.

Doc, I have never been or felt unsafe in the big bad world. It was only at home that I was unsafe, where trust was severed, where love meant nothing, where there was no safety. We see many stories of children who have been abducted by a stranger and sexually assaulted. The humdrum of everyday sexual abuse goes on day in and day out in homes all around the world. My story is mild compared to some I have come to know in group therapy with other "survivors." What doesn't usually survive is the ability to trust, to chose men who won't abuse us, or to see all men as abusers. I know objectively that it isn't true that all men are sexual abusers, but if that was one's childhood, how do you ever unlearn that core truth?

Betsy said...

Excellent poem! Thank you so much for sharing it.

2NewCats said...

My heart is with you. Know that you are loved for who you are. Your courage strengthens mine.

Alexa said...


Yes, for you this was normal. It was your day in, day out. And I imagine that inside you, this "normal" persists. Savagery is timeless in its effects.

And there's been more time since then ... more time like now, when readers like me find your poem and understand it and murmur, *Thank you, Utah*, for the courage you fling into words.


Alexa said...

More, after reading all the comments ...

Doc ... Most people *are* basically good ... Don't give up your feeling of that. Look in the mirror. :-)

Utah ... Isn't it the most horrible paradox: home being unsafe. I *still* feel that way, even though I live with a man who is the most trustworthy person I've ever known. Right now, the threat comes from some people in my neighbourhood. I feel so angry about this I could spit.

I went through an "All men are rapists" phase about 25 years ago; one of my roommates at the time came home with a police detective in tow -- She had been orally raped while walking home from campus. The first time I was alone in the house afterward, I hurled knives around the kitchen.

I don't think or feel this extent of rage any more ... but it simmers because our kind never stops doing harm.

I don't know if we can completely unlearn a belief that was stamped into our brain and psyche early in life ... I do know that the only way to lessen its power is to *will* some trust towards any person or creature who has shown us *real* love ... To this, we cannot help but respond eventually.

My cats, my husband, my beloved friends and mentors past and present ... They are my soul-tethers. Their presence and their actions remind me of another norm ... another way.

Utah Savage said...

Jaliya, How do I recognize love? I have friends I've known all my adult life. Women friends. One male friend. We keep each other close and at arms distance. I do really have trust issues, yet spill my guts so readily, so thoroughly. I try to scare men off. I'm very good at it. I wish I weren't so savage, but...

MRMacrum said...

Odd what we as children consider "normal". When someone says "I had a normal, boring life growing up, I always wonder just what they mean. I don't think we can ever clearly define "normal", but we can certainly define "safe". And from what you have written, I would say yours was anything but "safe". Excellent poem. Really dovetails well with your Maggy stories.

BBC said...

I loved half of my childhood, the part spent with my poor grandparents living out in the country and things like that.

But I hated living with my richer parents when I moved back in with them, that was a really stupid thing for me to do.

But kids are stupid so there you go.

Timothy Hogan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Hogan said...

The only abuse I suffered was the Shame that my Mother felt when I told her I was Gay. Not ashamed of me - no. Ashamed of herself. "What did I do Wrong," she bleated."How am I to Blame?"

"How can we make this about you, Mother? This of all things and we can't talk about the fact that I'm Gay without first resolving how it is about you?"

Not only was I reminded of her arrogance but she had told my how she judged my Sexuality. After all, if she loved me just as much anyway, why would anyone be to "Blame?" And guilty of "Wrongs?"

My 20 year diaspora began soon after.

Timothy Hogan said...

So I can't ever imagine the despair of the child that I hear in your poem. So angry, so lonely. Abusers be damned.

AArdvarker said...

It is brave of you to speak out. You deserved better.

JoJo said...

I feel so deeply what ou say about what is normal...it never occurred to me to analyze what was happening...it just WAS! I knew instinctively that it was wrong but there was also an element of it that I wanted..to be special, to have a secret, to be loved as a father SHOULD love a daughter. how I knew that there was another way to be loved I'm not sure, but I was willing to accept what was "taken from me. I see children on the street now and I wonder is she one of us? is he? I'm quite sure that they'll never tell. I just still can;t understand how my own mother couldn't see there was something radically wrong with me?
My behavior HAD to have changed, do you tink that a six yer old can hide a secret THAT well? These things haunt me. I also never really exmined whether this was a normal thing, somehow I KNEW it was wrong...as I've said, but then the things you learn in your early formative years are the things that are really just impossible to unlearn, it's like part of who you are